Monday, November 15, 2010

Paul Krugman, Death Panels, and Governor Palin's Solution to the National Debt



Over the weekend, Keynesian economist and New York Times columnist, Paul Krugman, appeared on the "This Week" to discuss the recent findings of President Obama's debt commission. Krugman discussed the changes to entitlement programs that need to be made as a result of the findings of the "debt panel". Newsbusters has a partial transcript from this exchange (emphasis mine):

PAUL KRUGMAN, NEW YORK TIMES: If they were going to do reality therapy, they should have said, OK, look, Medicare is going to have to decide what it's going to pay for. And at least for starters, it's going to have to decide which medical procedures are not effective at all and should not be paid for at all. In other words, it should have endorsed the panel that was part of the health care reform.

If it's not even -- if the commission isn't even brave enough to take on the death panels people, then it's doing no good at all. It's not educating the public. It's not telling people about the kinds of choices that need to be made.
This is not the first time that Krugman has made a reference to what Governor Palin has deemed "death panels". In March, Krugman explained that death panels were indeed rationing panels as indicated by the health care reform bill passed in the Spring. Essentially, Krugman is admitting yet again that Governor Palin is right, as Rush Limbaugh pointed out on his show today (courtesy of the Right Scoop):



Going beyond what Krugman said, Governor Palin's prescience continues to be front and center. While he did not specifically mention the "stimulus" bill, Krugman mentioned the concept of comparative effectiveness when he discusses how Medicare will have to decide what treatments are deemed "effective" and thus payable by Medicare and what treatments are not. Funding for "comparative effectiveness" health care research, determining what treatments are most effective for a given malady, was arguably the most under emphasized part of the stimulus bill. The general concept of "comparative effectiveness" appears benign as most Americans want to make sure that the receive the best treatment for a disease and do not wish to receive unnecessary, ineffective treatment. However, when applied to decisions made by government panels, it is just another indication that further government intervention results in less freedom and volitional control to the individual,as such research provides the basis for a government panel to make decisions based upon cost-effectiveness that should be made by a doctor and his or her patient based upon effectiveness of treatment. Ironically, the stimulus bill that contributed in large part to the need for a debt commission provides the supposed "answer" to debt problem--ration health care through Medicare. Upon the passage of the stimulus bill, Governor Palin said:
Our desire is to foster a discussion about what is true stimulus and what is just more federal interference in Alaskans' lives through the growth of government
Whether it be through supposed health care reform or through theoretical debt reduction, Governor Palin's prescience on federal interference continues.

Additionally, Governor Palin's ideas about tackling the national debt are the polar opposite of Leftists like Krugman. While Krugman supports tax increases and panels to ration Medicare funded health care, Governor Palin advocates cutting spending and taxes and providing reforms to Medicare not by rationing care but by approaching it humanely, as she states in her letter to Congressional freshman:
You’ve also got to be deadly serious about cutting the deficit. Despite what some would like us to believe, tax cuts didn’t get us into the mess we’re in. Government spending did. Tough decisions need to be made about reducing government spending. The longer we put them off, the worse it will get. We need to start by cutting non-essential spending. That includes stopping earmarks (because abuse of the earmark process created the "gateway-drug" that allowed backroom deals and bloated budgets), canceling all further spending on the failed Stimulus program, and rolling back non-discretionary spending to 2008 levels. You can do more, but this would be a good start.

In order to avert a fiscal disaster, we will also need to check the growth of spending on our entitlement programs. That will be a huge challenge, but it must be confronted head on. We must do it in a humane way that honors the government’s current commitments to our fellow Americans while also keeping faith with future generations. We cannot rob from our children and grandchildren’s tomorrow to pay for our unchecked spending today. Beyond that, we need to reform the way Congress conducts business in order to make it procedurally easier to cut spending than to increase it. We need to encourage zero-based budgeting practices in D.C. like the kind fiscally conservative mayors and governors utilize to balance their budgets and reduce unnecessary spending.
Taking advice from the Left and the current administration on debt reduction is akin to a basketball player going to a free throw clinic run by Shaquille O'Neal or someone getting involved in a weight loss program run by Michael Moore. I don't know about you all, but I'd rather take debt reduction advice from a Governor who actually put $5 billion into savings for Alaska. Hopefully, Krugman will one day say the same thing.


(H/T Mel, Sinistar, and Sheya)

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